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If you are about to travel to the Dominican Republic, here is what you need to know to ensure your arrival into the country is as smooth as possible.

Before traveling to the Dominican Republic, whether for tourism, to work, study, or settle down, it is best to be aware of related conditions and the procedures you will have to follow.

Formalities

Nationals of only a few countries can travel to the Dominican Republic simply with a passport, but the vast majority of people have to purchase a tourist card for US10 at their point of entry to the country, or prior to departure online or at their local Dominican consulate. Those staying for longer, or to work or study, will need a different type of visa. Here is more information on visas for the Dominican Republic.

The following travelers are exempt from the tourist card:

  • Residents of the Dominican Republic in possession of a Residency card and holders of different types of visa for the DR (work, study, business, diplomatic, etc.)
  • Nationals of Argentina, Chile, South Korea, Ecuador, Israel, Japan, Peru, and Uruguay
  • Dominican citizens

The tourist card is valid for 30 days during which time you cannot work. If you overstay you have to pay an overstay fee on departure.

Exit tax

You are required to pay a departure tax amounting to US$20 when leaving the country unless the tax is included in your return ticket.

What can I bring into the country?

The Dominican Republic regulates several items that visitors can bring into the country. Up to 200 cigarettes, 1 litre of alcohol, perfume, and gifts not exceeding USD $100 can be brought into the country duty-free.

The following items are banned:

  • Automobiles, motorcycles, and motor boats. Spare parts for machines and vehicles may be subject to duties.
  • If prescribed by a medical doctor, medicines are duty-free, but any other drugs or narcotics are strictly forbidden and could result in a lengthy jail sentence.
  • Arms of any kind, plus ammunition, are strictly forbidden and could result in a jail sentence.
  • Up to USD $10,000 is allowed in cash but any more will be confiscated.

When leaving The Dominican Republic, travellers cannot leave with more than USD $10,000 cash. In addition, it is forbidden to take drugs or weapons out of the country, as well as shells, corals, starfish, or anything made out of tortoise or turtle shell.

Where to arrive in the Dominican Republic

The vast majority of tourists arrive by air, and the Dominican Republic has nine international airports all over the country. They are served by a variety of scheduled and charter services, with direct flights to and from many cities in North America, the UK, and Europe. The country’s main airport is on the south coast around 20 minutes east of the capital of Santo Domingo. It is called Las Americas (SDQ) and has regularly scheduled flights from all over the world.

There is a second international airport in Santo Domingo, on the west side. It was formerly called La Isabela but has been renamed Dr Joaquim Balaguer (JBQ). It is mainly used for inter Caribbean flights with Caribair and domestic shuttles.

The main international airport in the north is between Puerto Plata and Sosua, called Gregorio Luperón (POP), serving those two areas plus Cabarete. It is mainly a tourist airport with regular flights from many cities in the USA, Canada, and the UK, as well as Europe. There are charter flights as well as scheduled flights.

In the northeast peninsula, there is an international airport in Samaná: President Juan Bosch (AZS), specifically for the growing tourism in that area, especially in Samaná itself, as well as Las Galeras and Las Terrenas.

The busiest airport in the country is in the east. Punta Cana airport (PUJ) serves the east coast resorts of Punta Cana and Bavaro, and is also used for those travelling to La Romana, Bayahibe, and Juan Dolio in the southeast. It is, again, mainly a tourist airport, with hundreds arriving every day. Flights, mainly chartered, but some scheduled, come from all over the world.

There is a small airport in the southeast at La Romana (LRM) which is part of the luxury Casa de Campo complex. There are scheduled and chartered flights there too, especially in the winter months – from November to April – to serve the cruise port in La Romana. Although the airport is known as La Romana, many tour companies refer to it as Casa de Campo airport.

The second largest city in the Dominican Republic, Santiago, has an international airport (STI) which has mainly scheduled flights from the USA, mainly from New York, Miami, Atlanta, Newark, and Orlando.

Given the size of the Dominican Republic, you need to ensure that you are arriving at an airport close to your final destination, as should you choose the wrong one, it can take a significant amount of time and money to cross from one side of the country to another. For example, if you arrive in Punta Cana airport and wish to stay in Sosúa on the north coast, that will take around 7-8 hours in a cab and even longer in a bus.

Not surprisingly, being an island, the Dominican Republic is a cruise destination. Several of the major cruise lines call into one of the four main ports; Samaná in the northeast, La Romana in the southeast, Santo Domingo, the capital city, and Puerto Plata in the north. Most of the cruises begin in the United States and call into the Dominican Republic on their way down to the rest of the Caribbean islands. The cruising season begins in November and lasts until the end of April. If you wish to leave a cruise ship in the Dominican Republic to stay in a hotel or resort, just make sure that the cruise docks is near your accommodation.

There is also a car and passenger ferry which sails from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico, taking around 13 hours. It has been known to go out of service for six months or so at a time, so it is always worth checking if it is still running. While there are regular air flights, the ferry can be useful if you have a lot of things to buy in Puerto Rico, as there are no baggage limits, unlike on planes.

 Important:

There are a few points you should be aware of when arriving into the Dominican Republic.

  • When you collect your baggage and walk towards Custom, they will not let you pass through until they have matched your baggage to your baggage receipt sticker which is usually stuck to your ticket. Make sure you have this available.
  • All of the airports have transport unions so you cannot simply hop on a bus. You need to take an airport taxi or have a pre-arranged taxi or personal pickup transport. Although the taxi prices are regulated and are prominently displayed on a board, it is always worth checking the price before getting into the taxi, and checking if they will charge additional for luggage. For those on a budget, it can be worth going to the Departures drop-off area and seeing if a taxi that has just dropped some passengers off is prepared to take you to your destination at a lower fare.

 Useful resources and links:

Most airports are owned by Aerodom, whose website has all the relevant information by airport .

Puerto Plata airport (POP) Tel: 809 291 0000

Samana airport (AZS) Tel: 809 338 5888

Las Americas (SDQ) Tel: 809 947 2225

Dr Joaquim Balaguer (JBQ) Tel: 809 826 4019

La Romana (LRM) Tel: 809 813 9305

The other airports are private:

Punta Cana International (PUJ)
Tel: 809 959 2376

Santiago (STI)
Tel: 809 223 8000

Ferry Santo Domingo to Puerto Rico
Tel: 809 688 4400

Dirección General de Impuestos Internos
Customs (in Spanish)

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.